Tuesday, July 21, 2009

LIfe of the Beloved

I finished reading Life of the Beloved by Henri (Just Me) Nouwen last night. I really enjoy books that only take a couple hours to read. Overall I was disappointed because Nouwen didn't come close to communicating to the secular world of his friend Fred. I was most impacted by Fred's desire to learn about spirituality in a way he and his secular friends could understand. I am asking of myself, "Can I communicate the story of God to the secular world as well as I can to those who share my beliefs, traditions, and vision?" 
At this point in my life I don't have any "secular" friends. I meet and hang out with "secular" students on occasion. As result I fear I may end up like Nouwen (that wouldn't be all bad), insulated by the walls of the church and unable to communicate to the outside world. I've decided to disobey my high school youth pastor, who told me not to hang out with non-Christians, and find ways to get outside the church walls to be among the secular. Maybe in the process some of the secular space will be reclaimed as sacred. 

Sunday, July 19, 2009

LIving Praise Indeed

This morning I visited Living Praise Christian Center in Chatsworth. Although it was 2.5 hours, it flew by much faster than the services at my church which are half the length. As soon as I walked in the door of the predominantly (95%) African-American church I felt like one of the family. I was greeted with more hugs than I'd get at a Cuban family reunion. I couldn't help but get wrapped up in the spirit of praise that filled the room. The gospel rhythms made me want to dance, so dance I did. Well a little anyway. I wished I brought my tambourine to join the band, which was far better than any I've heard at the House of Blues gospel brunch. As a first time visitor I received a blue ribbon to wear. If you've ever seen a flock of seagulls (not the band) attack some food on the beach, then you know what it looked like when a swarm of smiling faces noticed my blue ribbon. Fortunately I'm not afraid of personal contact and human affection. 

It must be said that I didn't agree with the theology behind a lot of the rhetoric, including the sermon, but there was no denying that the people wanted to praise the Lord with their whole selves. The pastor gave a message that was straight to the point: God has given us authority over created things, but we cannot use our authority in a healthy way unless we first submit to God's authority over us. After the service all the first time visitor were invited to meet the pastor and his wife, which I did. I let him know that it was the bus stop bench ad that brought me in. He praised God for advertising and let me know he is looking for some good Christian soldiers. I left feeling connected to a group of Jesus followers I'd never met before. I hope that is how people feel when they leave the parking lot of my church. I won't be leaving my church to join the army of LPCC, but I will take the orders I received today and march on, rooted in the love of Jesus Christ. 

Friday, July 17, 2009

It's about time

I finally have a blog. Didn't think this would ever happen, as I've never felt it was worth my time. Recently I've been flooded with so many thoughts about so many things that I need an outlet. I thought about going back to journaling with a pen, but then I thought to myself, "Maybe other people can benefit from my thoughts and experience." If no one ever reads this then I'll still have the outlet I desire.

You can expect me to share my thoughts on living like Jesus, living in community, youth ministry, MMA, marriage, the history and future of the church, and wisdom from my grandmother.